Our History

The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative is a partnership of Fox Valley-area nonprofits, funders, educational institutions, and businesses dedicated to providing resources needed by effective nonprofit boards and executive leaders.

We are a program within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region.


The Financial Leadership pilot program runs from February through May. This is a unique program for NPLI. The trainer was virtual and the participants had the option of in-person or virtual. The program was designed for staff and board members looking to be equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to be financial leaders. NPLI Institute graduate David Weiss was hired to succeed Kim O’Brien in the role of Executive Director.


We hired a part-time Administrative Associate to help oversee our growing number of programs. The Board Academy pilot program runs from January through March. New and seasoned board members attended a series of 6 training sessions covering the ten basic responsibilities of a board member as referenced on BoardSource.org.


The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative hosted all programming virtually and added new training sessions to support our local nonprofits through this critical leadership time.


Board Connect Online was brought under the umbrella of NPLI in June of 2019 and provides an online platform for nonprofits to post board member and board committee opportunities. Employers are encouraged to send their employees to this site if they are interested in feeding their passion by giving back to their community. Nonprofit board service can do things such as expand your critical thinking and communications skills, help you develop a better understanding of organizational dynamics, improve your ability to work collaboratively and within a team and much more!


The Nonprofit Leadership Initiative, in conjunction with a grant from the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region’s Bright Idea Fund, offered a select group of 10 nonprofits participation in a one-year pilot with Network for Good’s Jumpstart program. Network for Good offered fundraising coaching and a software platform to help these nonprofits “jumpstart” their fundraising efforts to allow then to use this technology venue to meet their mission. The program was a great success with an increase in a total of $229,000 in donations and therefore is a continued program within NPLI.

The 2017-18 Leadership Institute class celebrated its graduation on April 27, 2018. Over 50 supporters were present including co-workers, board members and funders, to hear participants tell their story of the transformation they received through this leadership training program. We can’t wait to see the great work they will continue to do in support of their agency’s mission!


Progress continues in developing plans regarding sustainability. The Steering Council for the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative begins its strategic planning, scheduled to be completed by August 1, 2018. Through this process we review current programming and successes realized through the impact they have on the nonprofits we serve.

April: The second cohort of Leadership Institute students undertake the program. Fourteen begin the journey to a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership Management, but more importantly, gain a new close knit cohort of fellow leaders to share best practice with.

Fundraising continues as NPLI passes the $477,000 mark, advancing toward the goal of $600,000 as its three year budget. There is still a lot of work to do in this regards to ensure our nonprofit leadership training continues in the Fox Valley. Meetings continue to take place to engage potential funders seeking to benefit nonprofits through strong leadership.


April 2016: The first cohort of eleven nonprofit management students begins work on the twelve-month coursework toward obtaining a Nonprofit Management Certificate. Leadership Institute classes are a collaboration between Fox Valley Technical College and NPLI. The program is a year-long series of seminars led by experts in their particular competencies and enhanced with a peer-facilitated discussion group for new executive directors or those in the pipeline. The program blends online and in-person learning and focuses on leadership and skill-development topics.
April: The second cohort of Leadership Institute students undertake the program. Fourteen begin the journey to a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership Management, but more importantly, gain a new close knit cohort of fellow leaders to share best practice with.


Kim O’Brien is hired as Executive Director of NPLI.​ The multiple programs within the Initiative are well under way and now in need of a full-time staff person to engage trainers and support current programs as well as develop new ones based on the needs of our nonprofits. Funding from a number of sources helped maintain a full time staff person in this capacity.

Branding is developed for the Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI)​. A local graphic designer developed a logo specific to our venture and a name was formalized as a program within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region as a new initiative to support local nonprofits and their leaders through training, collaboration and leadership development.

The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region enters into a three year agreement to host Nonprofit Next, a resource website, for local nonprofits and volunteers to access useful information pertaining to various aspects of nonprofit business.​ Tips, tools and templates are your fingertips. The Board portal is accessed more than any other subject on the site.


The process of raising funds begins. Foundation donors United Way Fox Cities, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Community First Credit Union, and Thrivent step up to help launch the new programs.​ Meetings with other community leaders are underway and starting to shape how local businesses and other partners can support their favorite nonprofits by donating to our training programs. Our belief is that in building strong leaders, long term sustainability and greatest impact of a nonprofit can be realized.

Kim O’Brien, a local consultant, is hired as Project Leader to develop a business and marketing plan to kick start the programs being developed by the committees. Fundraising started to allow for the engagement of trainers and venues for the various programs.

Terridale Consulting was hired to gather over 40 community leaders from businesses, funders, nonprofit executives and various community members to talk about what a successful nonprofit framework would look like. After months of meeting, five areas of strategic importance toward the goal of nonprofit excellence were developed: Leadership Institute Executive Director Forum Nonprofit Next Join a Board Events Board Training & Support


Community members discuss possibility of a nonprofit web resource. While an employee of the Community Foundation, Heidi Dusek initiated a software program called Nonprofit Next Fox Valley. The site is full of tools, templates and more accessible to Fox Valley nonprofits serving as a vetted resources for all things nonprofit. The site is managed by the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits.